Another year, another Tribeca Film Festival. I'm pretty excited about Tribeca this year, as they've obviously listened to all the complaints from last year and a) cut down their slate pretty significantly, and b) centralized the entire festival so that it's, technically, below 14th street. No, the Tribeca Film Festival is still not in Tribeca, but it does help that the screenings are in one or two locations and not spread out across the entire city. This, I hope, will give the fest a more personal vibe, like the one I've experienced at Sundance, SXSW and even Berlin.
What's there to look forward to this year at Tribeca? Well, aside from big premieres like Baby Mama, Speed Racer, Redbelt and War, Inc, there's a ton of tinier films that have caught my eye and teased me with their alluring plot descriptions. Here's seven -- wait, strike that -- eight films I'm really looking forward to ...
Bart Got a Room (pictured above)
Starring William H. Macy, Cheryl Hines and Steve Kaplan, Bart Got a Room follows one dweeb-ish kid whose life turns upside down when the school's biggest loser secures not only a date to the prom before him, but also a hotel room. While our hero attempts to land his own prom date, his divorced (and eccentric) parents search, independently, for love. Not only am I sucker for nerdy, high school stories, but there's no way in hell I could resist a movie featuring William H. Macy rockin' a sweet Jew-fro.
I've been itching to watch Michelle Monaghan finally crawl out from underneath that wooden shell and let loose for once, and so hopefully the buzzed-about indie flick Trucker will provide just that. Here, Monaghan plays Diane Ford, a "hard-nosed truck driver who leads a carefree life of all-night bar benders and one-night stands until her estranged 11-year-old son shows up at her door one evening," according to the film's synopsis. Yes, it seems similar to a lot of those other "Look, I have a kid!" flicks we've seen pass through theaters in the past couple years, but even if the story is a tiny bit suspect, I'm hoping we discover the emergence of another great actress in a risky performance from Monaghan.
This is Not a Robbery
It's a documentary about a guy who, at 87-years-old, decided to start robbing banks. What's not to love about that plot description? As the synopsis states: "This is not simply an exploration of one man's descent into a life of crime-it is an infectiously upbeat and humorous story of a man who didn't play by the rules. Rountree refused to waste his remaining years playing shuffleboard; instead he chose to sink his false teeth into life. . . albeit in a grievously illegal way."
I've come to really enjoy watching Matthew Broderick in smaller films, and here he plays a television writer/executive producer who, in order to get back in his wife's (Maura Tierney) good graces, heads to Vegas in search of their niece Amanda (Brittany Snow) in an attempt to convince the drug-addicted prostitute to go to rehab. And it's a comedy! And it's from the guy (Peter Tolan) who wrote Analyze This and shows like The Larry Sanders Show, Murphy Brown and Rescue Me! Drugs, hookers and Matthew Broderick -- what more could you ask for in a film festival screening?
Gunnin' for That #1 Spot
Directed by Adam Yauch (otherwise known as MCA from The Beastie Boys), Gunnin' is a documentary that highlights a basketball game in the fall of 2006 on one of America's most legendary courts: Rucker Park in Harlem, New York. But this isn't just any basketball game; this one features 24 of the country's top basketball prospects (aka the "Elite 24"), and in covering the game -- and the players -- Yauch "applies his signature stylistic visual flourishes to the stories of eight of the top ballers, " while blending the excitement of street basketball and "some slammin' hip-hop tracks." I'll definitely be there, albeit sitting on the bench as per usual.
After winning a jury prize at this year's Berlinale for its portrayal of sensitive social issues, Boy A arrives at Tribeca along with a highly talked-about performance from Andrew Garfield. Here, Garfield plays Jack -- a 24-year-old man who reenters society after spending 14 years in prison for a crime he committed when he was 10. With help from a new identity and a counselor/father figure (played by Peter Mullan), Jack attempts to fit into a world he barely remembers, making new friends and such, all while hiding the person he used to be ... or, maybe, still is.
And speaking of films that played well in Berlin, Elite Squad is coming off a Golden Bear win as it heads to Tribeca. The film, which has caused all sorts of debate in Brazil ever since its premiere there, tells the story of an elite police squad captain in Rio who must lead a life-threatening mission deep within the violent slums of Turano all while expecting a child with his wife at the same time. He'll need to get out, and he'll need to find a replacement -- but which one of his recruits will survive long enough to take the job? This one comes to us from director Jose Padilha (Bus 174), and if they dug it in Berlin, it must have something going for it. (Plus you need a little violence during a film festival -- it stirs up the blood; makes you feel alive).
57,000 Kilometers Between Us
I'll admit the title is what first grabbed hold of me, but then I read the synopsis and found myself hooked. The film marks the feature debut of French photographer and video artist Delphine Kreuter, and "it tracks the daisy chain of relationships -- some blood, some broadband -- fanning out of one hyperactively dysfunctional family ..." If something hidden deep within this film will help me finally teach my mother how to send an email, then I will owe Kreuter my life. Kidding, of course, but it definitely would be a bonus.
Stay tuned to Cinematical for coverage on all eight of these films, as well as much, much more in the coming days.